Egypt rejected 23 out of 300 recommendations Friday submitted by states during the UN’s Universal Periodical Review on Egypt’s human rights status in November 2014.
Egypt’s responses to the recommendations had varied from accepting and partially accepting to stating recommendations are noted or rejected.
Although Egypt has fully accepted 224 and partially accepted 23 recommendations, rights groups were sceptical towards the state’s response asserting “practices prove the contrary”.
The rejected recommendations dealt a range of issues such as death penalty, torture, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, detention facilities, military courts and protest law. One recommendation dealt with the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in dispersal killings, which were deemed “incorrect” by Egypt.
Sixteen recommendations submitted by Turkey, Rwanda, Portugal, Sierra Leone, Chile, Argentina, Romania, Spain, Togo, France, Germany, Hungary, Australia, Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland, Uruguay and Montenegro urged Egypt to sign and ratify the second optional protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The protocol abolishes the death penalty and to establish a moratorium on death sentences.
Egypt stated that Turkey’s recommendation to sign the protocol is noted while rejected other recommendations to ratify the protocol, abolish the capital punishment and suspend death sentences.
Four other recommendations from Gabon, Chile, Czech Republic, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Austria and Portugal to withdraw reservations against the Convention against Torture (CAT) and to ratify its optional protocol, which establishes an international inspection system for places of detention, were rejected by Egypt.
Egypt had signed the convention in 1986, but declared reservation to articles 21 and 22, which sought the authorisation of a UN committee against torture to listen to and deal with claims from other states in the convention or individuals about violations related to torture in other states in the convention.
In the response to the recommendations, Egypt commented on the issue of withdrawing reservations on the CAT stating that joining the two articles of the convention is optional.
Egypt also rejected a recommendation to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) submitted by Chile, Estonia, Slovenia, Tunisia and Uruguay.
Establishing a mechanism to mandate independent visits to civil, military and national security agency’s detention places was a recommendation submitted by Switzerland which Egypt rejected.
Furthermore, Israel submitted a recommendation calling on Egypt to release its citizen Ouda Tarabin, who is convicted for espionage. The recommendation was rejected by Egypt.
Austria encouraged Egypt to review the presidential decree that expands the jurisdiction of military courts. Egypt also rejected the recommendation.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a law in October 2014, granting the military judiciary authority over civilians in cases of vandalising public property or blocking public roads for trial in a military court.
Egypt also rejected a recommendation submitted by Turkey to repeal or amend the Protest Law issued in November 2013.
However, Egypt stated in its response that the government currently conducts discussions with civil society to draft a law that organises the work of NGOs and the right of peaceful assembly with accordance with Egypt’s constitution and Egypt’s international commitments.
Several rights groups in Egypt though have stated their concerns over this statement, saying they had invited the government to discuss the first UPR session and the recommendations submitted to Egypt, but these invitations “went unanswered”.
One recommendation was deemed by Egypt as “inaccurate”. The recommendation submitted by Iceland called for “thorough, independent and impartial investigations into the mass killings in Rabaa Al-Adaweya in 2013 and make the perpetrators accountable”.